Computer Cookies: Learn All You Need To Know

Computer cookies are ordinary text files that do not pose a danger. They do not run any processes on the computer and do not interact with the OS. But attackers can try to steal them to track your online activity or log in to your accounts.4 min


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computer cookies - cookies on white background

WHAT ARE COOKIES?

Cookies are files on a user’s computer that store information about his actions on sites. According to US Norton, they are formally known as an HTTP cookie, a web cookie, an Internet cookie, or a browser cookie. The name is a shorter version of “magic cookie,” which is a term for a packet of data that a computer receives and then sends back without changing or altering it.

There are varieties of information stored by cookies and they include:

  • previous user settings: font size, language, currency;
  • IP address and user location;
  • recently viewed or added to cart items;
  • date and time of site visit;
  • operating system and browser;
  • text that was previously entered on the site;
  • clicks and conversions.

Learn how Google uses cookies in the Help .

HOW DO COOKIES WORK?

Suppose you made a certain action on the site (added the product to the cart, logged in, etc.), the server wrote it in a cookie and sent it to the browser along with the page. When you go to another page of the site or visit it after a while – the browser sends cookies back to the server.

There are 2 types of cookies

  1. Temporary (session) cookies are active only when the user enters the site (more precisely, until the user leaves the site and closes the browser). They allow the site to remember the user’s actions on the previous page, which eliminates the need to re-enter information.
  2. Persistent cookies – remain on the user’s computer even after logging out of the site. Help to recognize the user as a unique visitor.

The type of cookies to use on a website is decided by its developer. That is why on some sites we remain authorized for a long time, and on others, we have to log in every time.

SECURITY COOKIES

Cookies are ordinary text files that do not pose a danger. They do not run any processes on the computer and do not interact with the OS. But attackers can try to steal them to track your online activity or log in to your accounts.
The information written in the cookie is encrypted and transmitted over HTTPS, which protects user data. That is why it is so important to translate the site to a secure HTTPS protocol. However, this is the responsibility of site developers, so visitors have no choice but to hope that the connection is encrypted.

ALSO READ: How to improve site indexing

PROTECTION OF PERSONAL DATA

In Europe, the processing of cookies is governed by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). You can get a fine for improper handling. And if you ignore these requirements, Google may suspend or block access to its services. This applies not only to EU residents but also to all resources that use Google products.
In Ukraine, there is a Law ” On Personal Data Protection “, which stipulates that users must consent to the processing of their personal data. Therefore, all sites are required to warn users about how their data is collected and processed. For example, using pop-ups or banners.

You also need to put a link from such a banner to the page, which tells in more detail why the site needs information about users (Cookie Policy).

It is important to provide the following information on this page:

  • designation of the term cookie;
  • what types of cookies are used on the site (mandatory, functional, social networks, analytical, which are used to determine the target audience for advertising purposes, etc.);
  • on acceptance, rejection, deletion of cookies;
  • file storage times;
  • who provides the cookie;
  • about the use of cookies.

GDPR requirements also provide for the addition of a cookie control panel to the site.

WHERE ARE COOKIES STORED?

They are stored in a user folder that is located in different locations on your computer’s hard drive depending on the browser:
Google Chrome :
C: / Users / Username / AppData / Local / Chromium
Mozilla :
C: / Users / Name username / AppData / Local / Mozilla / Firefox
Opera :
C: / Users / Username / AppData / Local / Opera Software / Opera

COOKIE MANAGEMENT

Users may prevent the browser from using cookies or delete them periodically. You should not disable cookies completely, because all sites work with cookies. For example, if you prevent a browser from using cookies, the server will not remember the items added to the cart. It is better to clean them sometimes, but you will have to customize the site to your liking and log in every time. On the other hand – cookies still need to be cleaned, because they take up space on the computer (sometimes even gigabytes of memory). So you should delete cookies at least once every few months. How to do it will be described below.
You can block, delete, limit the action of cookies in the settings of your browser. The fastest way is to use a hotkey combination (for Windows): Ctrl + Shift + Del (suitable for browsers: Chrome, Mozilla, Opera) or through the Browser Settings menu.

ALSO READ: Types of websites: Find out which is best for you

How do I delete cookies in Google Chrome?

  1. Click on the 3-dot icon in the upper right corner of Chrome. Go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down and click Advanced, then in the ” Privacy Policy ” section, click ” Clear browsing data .”
  3. In the ” Clear browsing data ” window, select Cookies and other data from sites and click ” Delete data .”

How to delete cookies in Mozilla Firefox browser?

  1. Click on the 3-bar icon in the upper right corner of Mozilla. Go to Settings (Preferences).
  2. In the menu on the left, select ” Privacy & Security “.
  3. Find the ” Cookies and site data » (Cookies and Site Data) and click ” Clear data » (Clear Data):
  4. You can delete cookies only for certain sites – by clicking the ” Data Management » (Manage Data).

See the Mozilla Help for more information.
More information on managing and deleting cookies in various browsers can be found on the official website: cookies.org

How do I turn off cookie collection?

You can disable cookies in any browser. Just keep in mind that disabling them may suspend some sites in your browser.

  1. Google Chrome: Settings / Advanced / Privacy Policy / Web Content / Cookies / Allow sites to store and recognize cookie data (drag slider to the left)
  2. Mozilla: Settings / Privacy / History / replace ” will remember history ” with ” will use its own history settings ” and uncheck ” accept cookies from sites “.

CONCLUSION

So now you know what cookies are and why they are needed. We hope you understand the importance of using them. It is important not to forget to inform users about data collection and processing!

Need help – contact!


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